Every week, we are trying to keep our membership up-to-date on what is happening around the state with local bans and regulation. Here is this week’s local roundup:
This week, I want to start by pointing out what most cities and counties are ignoring when they discuss bans on marijuana: When 44% of Oregonians voted against Measure 91, they answered whether or not they felt marijuana should be legal at all in our state; they were not answering the question on how they wanted their city or county to handle marijuana in a state that had already made it legal.
Union County: Union County Commissioner Jack Howard is one such example. While he voted against Measure 91, he has reconsidered the issue with the perspective that it is now legal in our state. He has been the lone voice in support of allowing voters to decide how to handle marijuana on a three-person Union County Board of Commissioners who eventually banned marijuana outright, including medical marijuana, with a two-to-one vote. Many voters in Union County supported Measure 91 and Howard says that “failing to refer the matter to the voters of Union County abridges” the rights of those voters who, while a minority in Union County, were on the winning side of the state-wide election.
Howard’s fellow Commissioner Steve McClure failed to recognize this distinction; as quoted by the La Grande Observer, McClure said, “Jack Howard became commissioner by beating Bill Rosholt. Rosholt doesn’t come here 40% of the time to represent the county.” Yet, bans implemented in localities without a vote of its citizens are exactly the same as if Rosholt did in fact represent 40% of voters, while Howard represented 60%. Localities that voted against the Governor aren’t represented by a different candidate for Governor either. Only marijuana regulation has been given piecemeal to the localities to do with it as they see fit, contrary to the intent of Measure 91 which allowed citizens the exclusive right to ban marijuana licensed activity through a vote in the same way as they can determine to be a dry county for alcohol.
Marijuana is legal state-wide, both for adults and patients, despite attempts to opt-out of the regulated activities allowed for adult use and medical marijuana. If voters were asked the very different question of whether or not they wanted regulated, licensed outlets in their communities now that marijuana is legal for all adults to grow, possess and use, they might vote differently than they did on Measure 91. Many of the cities and counties are unwilling to allow their citizens the opportunity to cast that vote.
Deschutes County: Deschutes County will hold a public hearing on Thursday November 12 at 5:30pm at the county offices located at 1300 NW Wall Street, according to KTVZ.com News to discuss zoning for licensed marijuana activity. More information and the text of the proposed ordinance can be found on the Deschutes County website.
Pendleton: The Pendleton City Council was one vote short of passing a ban on licensed marijuana activity, according to the East Oregonian, and likewise failed to pass a referral to the voters on a possible ban. Councilor Chuck Wood is out on vacation, but when the City Council takes up the issue again in their next meeting scheduled for November 17, he is likely to support the immediate ban based on previous meetings where he stated that the council has seen virtually no public support for recreational marijuana sales, according to an earlier article from the East Oregonian.
A few more updates from the same East Oregonian article:
Boardman: The city of Boardman voted to allow medical marijuana growers and dispensaries, while simultaneously passing a ban on adult use production and sales.
Pilot Rock: The Pilot Rock City Council voted unanimously to ban marijuana businesses, citing lack of resources to deal with enforcement and anticipated social costs. They will review a draft ordinance for the ban at the next meeting, November 17.
Umatilla: The Umatilla City Council adopted a zoning ordinance that doesn’t allow marijuana anywhere in the city, after previously passing a ban on commercial marijuana activity. The council had previously considered allowing medical marijuana in particular zones, but excluded those uses in the final draft past last week.
Linn County: According to the Albany Democrat Herald, Linn County voters will decide whether or not to allow recreational marijuana licensed activity. Voters in Linn County opposed Measure 91, with 53% voting no. County attorney Gene Karandy explained that medical marijuana dispensaries must be allowed by state law, so the vote will not impact medical marijuana dispensaries.
Albany: The Albany City Council voted to adopt a ban on all recreational pot sales in the city and to retain the ban on adult sales from medical marijuana dispensaries, according to the Albany Democrat Herald. They will review a draft ordinance on the proposed ban for its first reading at the December 2 meeting; if adopted, the ordinance will be referred to voters.
Wallowa County: Wallowa County Commissioners are moving forward with plans to ban marijuana licensed activity, according to the Wallowa County Chieftain, after hearing testimony from the public on November 2. If you want to understand the various points of opposition that are currently trending in these discussions to more effectively argue against them, this article provides a fairly thorough list of all the opposition talking points, including the absurd. Sheriff Rogers claims that “You can’t squeeze somebody hard enough to get pee in a bottle. Proving a DUII is going to be a nightmare” - which is wrong in so many ways.
Three new localities were added to the OLCC list of bans; Linn County added its name, along with the cities of Wallowa and Damascus.